THE ALBANY REPORT:
Who Will Run The NYS Senate?
The NYS Senate has been consistently controlled by the Republican Party since 1992 except for a brief period (2008/2009). Even though the balance of power has been somewhat shifting toward the Democrats over the last several years, the breakaway group, the Independent Democratic Caucus which teamed up with the Republicans in 2013, as did Senator Simcha Felder who won his seat as a Democratic candidate, has kept the Republicans in power. On April 4, 2018, Governor Cuomo, under pressure from various groups and fueled by his opponent in the up-coming election, Cynthia Nixon, announced (with Senator Jeff Klein, the Leader of the IDC and Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Leader of the Democratic Conference) the reunification of the IDC with the mainstream Democratic Conference. Senator Simcha Felder has chosen to stay with the Republicans, continuing their Majority at least through the end of this session, saying that the disruption caused by changing the seat of power so close to the end of session would make the ability to get work done impossible and hurt his constituents and all New Yorkers. Governor Cuomo sent him a strongly worded letter urging him to reconsider and reminding him that while the Senate Democrats need him now, they may not after the November election when all seats in Albany will be on the ballot. All eyes were fixed on the special election held April 24th, to fill 2 Senate seats vacated by now City Councilman Rubin Diaz and now County Executive George Latimer, with special attention to the latter which was not a guaranteed Democratic win. Shelley Mayer, the Democrat did win that seat, giving Democrats a numerical majority including Simcha Felder. Here are the complete special election results
• Westchester Senate District 37 – Shelley Mayer (D) 58% beat Julie Killian (R) 42% in a seat formerly held by Democrat George Latimer.
• Bronx Senate District 32– former Assembly member Luis Sepulveda (D) 89% beat Patrick Delices & Pamela Stewart-Martinez in a seat formerly held by Democrat Rubin Diaz.
• Suffolk Assembly District 5– Douglas Smith (R) 63% beat Deborah Slinkosky (D) in a seat formerly held by Republican Al Graf.
• Suffolk Assembly District 10 – Steve Stern (D) 59% beat Janet Smitelli (R) 41% in a seat formerly held by Republican Chad Lupinacci.
• Nassau Assembly District 17– John Mikulin (R) 63% beat Matthew Malin (D) 36% in a seat formerly held by Republican Tom McKevitt.
• Queens Assembly District 39 – Ari Espinal (D) 91% unopposed in a seat formerly held by her boss, Democrat Francisco Moya.
• Manhattan/Brooklyn Assembly District 74 – Harvey Epstein (D) 90% beat Bryan Cooper, Adrienne Craig-Williams & Juan Pagan in a seat formerly held by now Senator, Democrat Brian Kavanagh.
• Bronx Assembly District 80 – Nathalia Fernandez (D) 81% beat Gene Defrancis (R) 18% in a seat formerly held by her boss, Democrat Mark Gjonaj.
• Greene Assembly District 102 – Christopher Tague (R) 45.87% beat Aidan O’Connor, Jr. (D) 44.32% in a seat formerly held by Republican Peter Lopez.
• Rensselaer Assembly District 107 – Too close to call (absentee ballots being counted) between Jacob Ashby (R) 50.84% and Cynthia Doran (D) 49.02% in a seat formerly held by Republican Steve McLaughlin.
• Erie Assembly District 142 – Too close to call (absentee ballots being counted) between two Democrats Patrick Burke and Eric Bohen (who ran on the Republican line) in a seat formerly held by Democrat Mickey Kearns.
Every elected position in Albany will be on the ballot in November and many are speculating about how the general election will affect the balance of power. The following Senators have announced that they will not seek re-election in November:
• John DeFrancisco (R)
• Kathy Marchione (R)
• John Bonacic (R)
• Tom Croci (R)
• Bill Larkin (R)
Bills We Are Watching:
As is the case every session, there are hundreds of bills that would affect our world in small and sometimes big ways. We track them all, determine whether or not we support or oppose them and monitor their progress through the legislative process. We’ve narrowed down the lot to a few outlined below:
We oppose these:
S.1433(Ritchie)/A.271(Gunther) Requires a variety of training classes, including CPR for all employees and volunteers working for developmental disabilities services organizations. This bill passed the Assembly but won’t get out of the Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee thanks to the advocacy of IAC and our COPA partners.
S.5753-B(Lanza)/A.5515-B(Weprin) Requires annual Radon testing of all MH & DD facilities. There appears to be a growing focus on codifying rules for Radon testing across sectors. As a back-up to merely stopping this bill’s progress, we are researching the various proposals and we remain committed to ensuring that any final resolution is sensible and that any additional costs are funded.
S.4736-B(Lanza)/A.6830-A(Weprin) Requires mandated reporters to call 911 and the county District Attorney’s office for all reportable incidents (regardless of whether or not a first responder is needed or a potential criminal act has taken place). This bill also increases the penalty for non-reporting from a Class A Misdemeanor to a Class E Felony. This bill is a perennial problem that we thought might be solved last year by the passage and adoption of S.6609(Lanza)/A.8251(Weprin) which requires “State oversight agencies to ensure that facilities and provider agencies have policies and procedures to identify and report possible crimes against a service recipient by a custodian”. The bill poses a number of problems including tying up the 911 system with non-emergency situations and subjecting non reporting staff to the possibility of a 16 month to four year prison term, without increasing anyone’s safety. We don’t expect this bill to pass either house but will watch it carefully to ensure that it doesn’t. It is currently on the Senate MH&DD committee agenda.
There are two bills we support! In fact these were introduced at our request:
S.8294(Marcellino)/A.10439(Nolan) Ensures that 4410 preschools and 853 schools can receive the tuition increases that are due them even if they are waiting for their current tuition rates to be approved. This problem, highlighted in our lobby days white paper, concerns our schools which don’t have current approved rates, due to SED’s backlog of work. As a result, they are not receiving previously approved rate increases. This bill would correct the current unfair situation.
S.8184-A(Ortt)/ no companion bill Requires increases over the next 4 years to realize a living wage for DSP’s and other lower wage staff in our programs. This bill promises 3.25% increases for 100, 200 and 300 series staff titles on the CFR in the next 4 budgets. The Assembly version will be introduced shortly.